4 Emergency Steps To Take When Your Credit Card Has Been Stolen

Credit card fraud online is on the rise. Years ago, you knew your card had been compromised when it was lost or stolen, but now you may not even know someone has your credit card information until you check your bank statement!

Thankfully, the law here is in your favor – but only if you act quickly.

Before I lay out the steps to take once your card has been compromised, above all you need to start doing this one thing: check your credit card statements regularly! Even better, check your account online.

Since you have to report credit card fraud within a short amount of time to get liability protection under the law, you’ll be able to catch any suspicious activity right away the more often you check up on things. Sounds like common sense but truth is, few people do it. Five minutes a week is a small price to pay to avoid getting taken advantage of.

If you do think your credit card has been compromised, you don’t even need to wait until money has been charged fraudulently to take action. Especially if you’ve lost your card or think it was stolen, you should go ahead and take these steps:

1. Contact your credit card company or bank. This is the first step to take if your card is lost or stolen, or if you think that the number has been stolen and used fraudulently.

Your credit card company can’t hold you liable for more than $50 of fraudulent charges, and if your number has been stolen but not the card, you’re not liable at all. However, this does depend on your acting quickly, so call your company as soon as possible. They should place a freeze on the account until you can find a card that was lost, and if you know the card was stolen, they’ll need to cancel the old card and issue you a new card with a new credit card number.

2. Contact the fraud authorities. Next, you need to file a report with the local police. Get a copy of the report in case you need to deal with credit reporting bureaus or your credit card issuer regarding the fraudulent charges.

You should also file a report online with the Federal Trade Commission at the Consumer Sentinel Network. Filing a report won’t necessarily make getting your money back easier, but it may give the FTC information needed to catch credit card fraud criminals in the future.

3. Contact the three major credit reporting bureaus. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion can put an alert on your accounts that will contact you if someone attempts to open a new account.

For example, if someone steals your information and tries to take out a credit card in your name, the credit card company will check your credit. Then, the reporting company can contact you, and you may be able to prevent someone opening new lines of credit in your name.

Another option here is to put a freeze on your credit accounts so lenders can’t check your credit history and no new accounts can be opened. Just be aware that you’ll have to give it a few days to un-freeze your account when you actually want to open a new line of credit in the future.

4. Send it in paper. Sending letters with the details about your credit card problem can help you ensure that the credit card company and credit reporting bureaus can’t mess up your information in the future. You can also get a free credit report as a fraud victim so you can double check that nothing has been opened that you don’t recognize, which is a great idea any time you’ve been a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft.

These four steps aren’t hard, and they should certainly be taken quickly if you’re the victim of credit card fraud. If you simply can’t find your card but aren’t sure if it’s actually been stolen or used fraudulently, you’ll just need to contact your credit card company to put a hold on your account or to issue you a new card and deactivate the old one. Just make sure they issue you a card with a new number, in case the old card was stolen and someone took the number off of it but just hasn’t used it yet!

Ashyia Hill is a social media advocate at CreditDonkey. She helps entrepreneurs find business credit cards with rewards they’ll actually use.

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